Mandatory Integration Measures and Differential Inclusion: The Italian Case


Since 2012 migrants arriving regularly in Italy must sign an integration agreement and declare their agreement with a ‘Charter of the values’. Insufficient integration (measured through a point-based system) results in deportation. While the point-based system discriminates against the poor, the less educated and qualified, the subordinate workers, and the nomads, the Charter is inspired by stereotypical and stigmatizing visions of Islam. This paper identifies the cases of discrimination, both legal (freedom of thought, presumption of innocence, principle of non-discrimination, right to an effective remedy, laicism of state) and symbolical, of the integration agreement, and analyses Italian integration measures before the background of the concept of differential inclusion: the incorporation of regular migrants requires them to pass under a symbolic and legal yoke, which increases their hierarchical differentiation. The integration agreement is also analyzed with regard to its relationship with border controls and with the concepts of ‘illegalization’ and ‘deportability’.

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  1. 1.

    The Netherlands was the forerunner for both turns (Joppke 2007; Vasta 2007; Schinkel 2013). Other countries followed the Dutch example, while the EU adopted three directives (the long-term residents directive, the family reunification directive, and the blue card directive) that expressly allow member states to require certain categories of third-country nationals to comply with integration measures and conditions (De Vries 2012).

  2. 2.

    The shift towards cultural integration through mandatory civic integration programmes is often seen as a move from multiculturalist towards assimilationist policies (Brubaker 2001; Alexander 2013). However, it is also argued that the opposition between multiculturalism and assimilationism, or between integration and assimilation (Schneider and Crul 2010) is to be found more in political discourses than in actual practices, which in fact remain largely multiculturalist (Banting and Kymlicka 2013). In the end, if it is true that multiculturalism and assimilationism are but two sides of the same coin, as no multiculturalism exists without a certain amount of assimilationism (Hage 2011), it seems that the coin of integration policies tends to fall more and more often on the assimilationist side.

  3. 3.

    Pre-entry measures (including language and civic culture tests for categories such as family migrants, highly skilled migrants and religious ministers) have been adopted by Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and UK. France and Denmark have adopted milder versions that don’t completely preclude entry (Groenendijk 2011).

  4. 4.

    Newcomers and/or immigrants applying for long-term resident status are required to attend courses and/or pass tests on language and/or civic culture in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and UK (ICMPD 2005; Carrera 2006; Jacobs and Rea 2007; Joppke 2007).

  5. 5.

    Migrants applying for citizenship status must pass tests and/or attend courses of language and/or civic culture in Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Slovak Republic and UK (European Migration Network 2012).

  6. 6.

    Austria also sanctions insufficient integration with deportation, but the deadline for reaching the requested degree of integration is longer (3 to 5 years).

  7. 7.

    Article 1, paragraph 25, law 94 of 15 July 2009 (“Disposizioni in materia di sicurezza pubblica”). Since then, this specific provision constitutes article 4-bis of the “Testo unico delle disposizioni concernenti la disciplina dell’immigrazione e norme sulla condizione dello straniero” (Legislative decree 286 of 25 July 1998, as amended), hereafter Testo unico.

  8. 8.

    Decree of the President of the Republic 179 of 14 September 2011 (“Regolamento concernente la disciplina dell’accordo di integrazione tra lo straniero e lo stato”).

  9. 9.

    Decree of the Ministry of Interior of 23 April 2007 (“Carta dei valori della cittadinanza e dell’integrazione”).

  10. 10.

    Article 4-bis, paragraph 2, of the Testo unico.

  11. 11.

    In Italian: “della cultura civica e della vita civile in Italia” (Annex A, article 4, of the regulation).

  12. 12.

    Annex A, article 1, of the regulation.

  13. 13.

    Annex A, article 2, of the regulation.

  14. 14.


  15. 15.

    Article 4-bis, paragraph 2, of the Testo unico.

  16. 16.


  17. 17.


  18. 18.

    Annex A, article 5, of the regulation.

  19. 19.

    Ironically, living in a luxury yacht would be a disadvantage as well.

  20. 20.

    Annex A, article 1, of the regulation.

  21. 21.

    Roberta Aluffi Beck Peccoz (Università di Torino), Carlo Cardia (Università Roma Tre), Khaled Fouad Allam (Università di Trieste), Adnane Mokrani (Università Gregoriana, Rome), Francesco Zannini (Pontificio Istituto di studi arabi ed islamistica, Rome), Franco Testa (prefect) and Maria Patrizia Paba (vice-prefect).

  22. 22.

    Before the provisions regarding the integration agreement came into force, the charter had been used only once, when seven Islamic organizations declared to accept it as the basis upon which to build up relationships with the state (Colaianni 2009).

  23. 23.

    Section titles include “Human dignity, rights and duties”, “Social rights - Work and health”, “Social rights – Schooling, education, information”, “Family – The new generations”, “Secularism and religious freedom”, “Italy’s international commitment”.

  24. 24.

    Besides other more common discriminations (e.g. regarding the right to sell or buy real estate property, or the right to vote) characterizing Western, Christian and Italian ‘tradition’, a particular one deserves to be mentioned: until 1981 the Italian penal code recognized so called honour killings. If a woman was caught by her husband, brother or father with a man other than her legitimate spouse, her husband, brother or father could kill the woman and/or the man, and he would be given only a milder sentence (from 3 to 7 years prison). In spite of this, discourses on integration often present honour killings as peculiar to the Islamic tradition.

  25. 25.

    Article 556 of the codice penale.

  26. 26.

    But not for polyandry, which is still practiced in other contexts instead.

  27. 27.

    The relevant provision (article 5, law 152 of 22 May 1975, as amended by article 2, law 533 of 8 August 1977) was adopted in a period in which left- and right-wing political terrorism was the most acute problem of public order in Italy.

  28. 28.

    e.g. visa obligations, carrier sanctions, cooperation with third countries, patrols on the high seas, police liaison officers, detention centres, externalization of asylum and diffused internal identity checks.

  29. 29.

    At the time of writing, the first assessments of the integration level of migrants have just begun.


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I am grateful to Karin de Vries for her helpful comments. Earlier versions of this paper were presented in Agrigento (‘Razzismi, discriminazioni e confinamenti’ conference), Bergamo (‘Mapping Conceptual Change in Thinking European Borders’ conference), Bergen aan Zee (VU Migration Law Seminar ‘Bergen VI’), Palermo (postgraduate seminar, Scuola di dottorato in Diritto sovranazionale e diritto interno, Palermo University) and Bologna (graduate seminar, Dipartimento di Scienze politiche e sociali, Bologna University). Thanks go to the hosts—Antonella E. Castronovo, Mario Grasso, Michele Mannoia, Marco A. Pirrone and Alessandra Sciurba (Agrigento); Gianluca Bocchi, Chiara Brambilla, Jussi Laine, James Scott (Bergamo); Juan Amaya Castro, Daan Bes, Evelien Brouwer (Bergen aan Zee); Aldo Schiavello, Guido Smorto and Isabel Trujillo Perez (Palermo); Sandro Mezzadra and Irene Peano (Bologna)—as well as to the participants for the inputs received. I also acknowledge feedback from two anonymous reviewers.

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Cuttitta, P. Mandatory Integration Measures and Differential Inclusion: The Italian Case. Int. Migration & Integration 17, 289–302 (2016).

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  • Integration
  • Regular migration
  • Discrimination
  • Differential inclusion
  • Italy